Our Ailing Meritocracy

Merit takes second place to gender and religion

by Raymond Ibrahim

Private Papers

When all the political sophistry is said and done, there is no denying that the claim to fame of the Democratic Party’s two superstar candidates, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, is that the one is a woman, the other black and from something of an “ambiguous” religious background (little wonder bland John Edwards stepped out, with the jocular yet true remark during January’s CNN Democratic Debate that being white and male wasn’t helping his cause).Clinton’s and Obama’s primary appeal, then, is that they are “minorities” — who, so the unspoken logic goes, must be in tune, domestically and internationally, with minorities everywhere, due to their own “diversity,” and therefore must be open-minded and just. Yet, while diversity, multiculturalism, pluralism, et. al. are all well and good, is that all there is when choosing a president — when choosing a leader for our nation during these trying times?

Hillary can boast White House experience — eight years worth as First Lady, of being privy (except on a few occasions) to key presidential decisions being played out in the Oval Office. Still, it is very clear that Hillary’s main appeal to democrats and liberals everywhere is, simply, that she is a woman. In that—and that alone—does she truly bring something new and unprecedented to the White House.

As for Barack (whose Arabic name, incidentally, means “Blessing”), it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where his merit or experience lies — aside from his reported “charisma” which apparently manifested itself in the 2004 democratic convention. But presidents — whose ultimate worth manifests itself behind the scenes, where many uninspiring yet momentous and consequential decisions are made — need a bit more than charisma and platitudes of “change.” That said, does anyone doubt that Obama would have been able to come out of nowhere to represent the Democratic Party if he wasn’t black and with a “diverse” religious identity/heritage?

Not only is Obama black, but he was born to a Muslim father (and raised by a Muslim step-father), attending the infamous madrassas, which are now synonymous with Islamic indoctrination. Obama insists that he is Christian, and there certainly seems to be no reason to doubt him; however, it is clear that his Muslim background makes him appealing to those many liberals who worship at the altar of diversity and multiculturalism, and who believe his Muslim heritage will only help bring about some sort of miraculous, overnight rapprochement between the West and Islam.

It also bears mentioning that though Barack is now Christian, according to Islamic law, anyone born to a Muslim father is automatically considered Muslim (there are no rites or baptisms involved). According to sharia, then, Obama is an apostate, a crime punishable by death. (Thus Obama might want to think twice about holding an “Islamic summit” as he recently announced — which will undoubtedly be composed of many a sharia adhering Muslim.)

And so, according to both the open and subliminal messages of the Democratic Party, the three “no-noes” that every American must always eschew when making public/political decisions — race, gender, and religion — are now the three “yes-yeses” that are supposed to make their candidates irresistible. Sure, Hillary and Obama themselves don’t often go out of their ways to draw attention to their “minority” statuses; yet almost all of their supporters go to great lengths to stress Hillary’s and Obama’s “otherness.” Indeed, one can surmise that the perfect democratic presidential candidate would have been a combination of both Hillary and Barack — a black, female, Muslim, perhaps even veiled?  Since that’s not possible, the next best thing, a president and vice president combining all these attributes, may well follow the next Democratic Convention.

Let no one be deceived, however. Favoring a candidate primarily because they are female, or because they are ethnic or religious minorities is absolutely no different than disfavoring a presidential candidate simply because they are female, or because they are ethnic or religious minorities. Prejudice works both ways. We are supposed to choose presidents based on their merit and the good they can do for our country — not because they are men or women, black or white, Christian or Muslim. We cannot be a society constantly preaching that race, gender, and religion are immaterial in the public and political spheres — and then simultaneously turn around and use race, gender and religion to win political support, though from another angle.

Oprah Winfrey’s unwavering support for Obama’s presidential bid — primarily because he is black, as most political observers have noted — is absolutely no different than if a prominent white talk show host gave his unwavering support to a fellow white presidential candidate, for no other reason than their shared “whiteness.” Both scenarios are equally racist. The grand irony, of course, is that, while democrats and liberals are constantly whining about the need to remove gender, race, and religion from all decisions, they are also the same ones exploiting these three issues in their bid for the presidency.

Whatever one may think of the Republican Party, it has at least not resorted to making race, religion, or gender paramount in its campaign. Mormon Mitt Romney, for instance, who seems to be out of the race, could not make his “Mormonness” — his diverse “otherness” — makeup for other qualities. As for John McCain and Mike Huckabee, well, they are just plain old WASPS — like the majority of the inhabitants of this country. So they bring nothing exotic or “gimmicky” to the presidency, which, looked at another way, may well mean that they have something else — perhaps actual merit and experience? — to offer.

At any rate, the question every American should ponder is: If race, religion, and gender are aspects that have no bearing in our society and should always be overlooked, why are they the defining characteristics of the democratic candidates?

Raymond Ibrahim is the editor of the Al-Qaeda Reader, translations of religious texts and propaganda.

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